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The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a fragmented region: in spite of its relative cultural and historical homogeneity, it has some of the lowest levels of intra-regional trade, political cooperation and legal migration in the world.

This is largely due to the fact that, since the end of the Second World War, it has experienced the full spectrum of political violence. Conventional, hybrid, and civil wars, revolutions, and terrorism have hindered political and economic development, and created fertile ground for further violence. Breaking this ‘conflict trap’ is imperative for the states of the region, as well as those actors who have a stake in it.

For the EU, the MENA is of strategic importance for three reasons:

  • it is an immediate geographic neighbour,
  • a crucial passage for goods traveling to and from Europe (including oil and gas),
  • and it has been historically unstable.

The region’s security and economic situation is consequently closely intertwined with that of Europe. This explains the Union’s desire to contribute to regional stability through different means such as the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), the Barcelona Process and the Union for the Mediterranean.

The EUISS seeks to contribute to the EU’s overall effort in the MENA by providing in-depth analyses on a number of key issues affecting the region.


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    12December 2014

    The threat of Islamic State (IS) and a potentially nuclear-capable Iran, as well as protracted instability in Yemen, Iraq and Libya, has led to the conclusion that military cooperation among Arab countries is no longer an option but a necessity. This Alert takes a closer look at how an Arab army might finally become a reality.

  • 06November 2014

    In partnership with the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, the EUISS presented the abridged German version of its Yearbook of European of European Security 2014 on 6 November in the Austrian capital.

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    17October 2014

    This Brief examines the many faces of modern Islamism. What are the main streams of political Islam? And how are they linked to both the Sunni/Shiite divide and the violence plaguing the Middle East and North Africa?

  • 11September 2014

    The EUISS held its annual conference on 11/12 September in central Paris. This year’s event, entitled ‘European security in a changing global environment’, was an opportunity to convene numerous policy planners and think tankers from across the Europe to discuss European security during a period of major institutional change within the Union.

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    05September 2014

    Following a particularly bloody summer, this Alert explores the potential existence of a causal link between rising temperatures and aggressive behaviour in the Arab world. But can the heat alone explain the onset of conflict?

  • 30July 2014

    The Arab Foresight Group was an initiative undertaken by the EU Institute for Security Studies to bring together experts on the Arab World from Europe and the southern neighbourhood to discuss the most pressing issues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region over the next the ten years.

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    24July 2014

    How do states transit to democracy, and why does it seem such a difficult endeavour in the Arab world? This brief explains the conditions required for democratic transitions to succeed, and highlights the many pitfalls that cause states to revert to authoritarianism.

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    27June 2014

    As Islamic extremists continue their advance across Iraq, this Brief takes stock of terrorism-related developments in the Middle East and North Africa. What factors explain the escalation in terror attacks? And what steps – legal or otherwise – are governments taking to counter the ‘jihadi highway’ that now spans the region?

  • Keynote speech by John McCain
    20May 2014

    The annual transatlantic event of the EUISS – organised this year in collaboration with the Middle East Institute – brought together over 100 participants from both sides of the Atlantic to debate current pressing issues in the MENA region.

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    16May 2014

    Exploring the effects of the high levels of military spending in the Arab world, this Alert seeks to underline the importance of the security-development nexus. What can military expenditure tell us about the likelihood of both intra- and inter-state conflict breaking out?



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    19March 2013

    Deux ans après les événements qui ont conduit à la chute du régime de Ben Ali, la crise sociale et gouvernementale actuelle amène à poser la question de l’irréversibilité de la révolution tunisienne. Quelles étaient ses demandes ? Quelles réformes substantielles le gouvernement doit-il encore mettre en œuvre pour garantir une rupture définitive avec le passé ?

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    30October 2012

    In recent years, non-state actors (NSAs) have become an important part of the EU’s policy-making process regarding the conflict. This paper examines a group of actors that, although under-researched, play a significant role in the formulation and evolution of EU external policy.

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    18October 2012

    With the tectonic shifts in the political landscape of the Middle East yet to settle, much still hangs in the balance. For Iran, this presents an opportunity to enhance its standing and gain new influence as countries such as Egypt make the transition towards a more democratic system of governance, which inevitably entails greater influence for Islamist groups and parties. The ruling elite in Iran was delighted when the Arab Spring increased the prominence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and even more so when Mohamed Morsi was elected president of Egypt earlier this year.

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    20July 2012

    A crisis of legitimacy has struck Egypt as a trio of competing powers – the military, the Brotherhood, and so-called ‘third way’ liberals - vie for control of the country and its institutions. What can the West do, if anything, to avert the implosion of this fledgling democracy?

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    12July 2012

    As many European governments introduce their biggest defence budget cuts in years, the impact on their collective military capabilities may be lessened by exploiting two directives designed to integrate the EU defence market.

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    13June 2012

    With the presidential elections in Egypt underway, TAPIR Fellow Tova Norlén explores the process of democratic transition following the Arab Spring in a country where advocates of political Islam are currently locked in an electoral struggle with the military.

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    11May 2012

    The EU must develop a better understanding of Israeli domestic political constraints and set itself clearer goals and objectives if it is to have real influence in the Middle East peace process.

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    02April 2012

    The EU has responded to the Arab democratic wave by reinvigorating and re-launching the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in the Mediterranean. But which multilateral approach should the EU develop under the new circumstances, if at all?

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    12March 2012

    Written by the Director of the EUISS, Álvaro de Vasconcelos, this new book assesses how the Arab democratic wave is part of a wider shift towards a post-Western world in which the global agenda is no longer defined by the West alone and other ‘unfamiliar’ voices may be heard.

  • 07March 2012

     Seldom has it been as justified to be pessimistic about developments between the United States, Israel, and Iran. This dysfunctional state of affairs is getting so out of hand that the danger of war is no longer just a remote possibility but instead looms large on the horizon. David Ignatius reported on Feb. 2 in Washington Post that "[Secretary of Defense Leon] Panetta believes there is a strong likelihood that Israel will strike Iran in April, May, or June," though he does not believe that the final decision has been taken yet.